This current Nationals team might be the worst team in franchise history, and that’s saying something considering the 2008 and 2009 teams each only won 59 games and were the worst teams in baseball. The Oakland A’s are 4.5 games ahead of the last place Nationals, who look like a lock to be the worst team in baseball this year after trading Juan Soto and Josh Bell at the trade deadline. In past years, that would be a silver lining as the Nationals would be guaranteed the #1 overall pick in next year’s draft. Unfortunately this is the first year of the MLB Draft Lottery, so the Nats, while guaranteed to pick no lower than 7th if they finish in last, are not guaranteed the #1 overall pick.
Again, there are plenty of reasons not to watch this terrible Nationals team. With Soto and Bell gone, there are no All Star caliber players currently in the lineup, much less a superstar. Fans are disheartened after losing Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, Max Scherzer, and Juan Soto since 2018. Patrick Corbin might end up being statistically the worst starting pitcher in baseball history and he’s still owed a ridiculous amount of money over the next few years. Trade pieces Nelson Cruz, Cesar Hernandez, and Steve Cishek are still on the team post-deadline after awful seasons. I could go on and on.
But last night reminded us what we could miss if we don’t watch. And I’m not talking about the win, though that felt nice because they’ve been so rare this season. I’m talking about our young catcher, Keibert Ruiz, having a multi-home run game. I’m talking about 30-year-old rookie and feel good story Joey Meneses hitting his third home run of the season and his second in as many days. Luis Garcia, taking a rare walk (only his 3rd of the year), while hitting .284 on the season.
Today, our young pitcher Josiah Gray takes the mound, and while he’s struggled lately with a mediocre fastball, we know adding a sinker this offseason could take him to the next level. And he’s still capable of having a dazzling start. We’re just over a month from when he struck out 11 Phillies at Citizen’s Bank Park on July 6th. In that game he induced 22 swing and misses, which is Max Scherzer-like. And with Mackenzie Gore and potentially Cade Cavalli on the way, the future of the Nats rotation is looking bright.
Yes, we still have to deal with watching Maikel Franco trot out there to play third base. And yes, we still have to deal with the Nats blowing saves and grounding into double plays and making mind-blowing TOOTBLANs. But with CJ Abrams and the aforementioned Mackenzie Gore on the way, there’s still a few reasons to watch the Nats. And hey, maybe if you watch, you’ll see Keibert Ruiz break out as one of the leagues best catchers.